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Trilogy fights ahead for Estrada, ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez? Could we see Claressa Shields-Jessica McCaskill?


3:10 AM ET

Ben Baby

CloseESPN Staff WriterESPN Staff Writer
Previously a college football writer for The Dallas Morning News
University of North Texas graduate

Cameron Wolfe

CloseESPN Staff WriterCovered the Broncos for two seasons with the Denver Post
Graduate of the University of Houston
A native of Jackson, Miss.

Juan Francisco Estrada avenged one of his two career losses on Saturday, defeating Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez by split decision in a wildly entertaining slugfest. The judges’ scorecards were a matter of conjecture; while no one had much to say about the 115-113 scores each fighter received, the 117-111 score for Estrada, which gave him the win, raised some eyebrows.

The victory set the stage for dual world titlist Estrada to face Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a trilogy fight later this year. Rungvisai won his own fight one night prior to Estrada’s victory, and with the tally between the two fighters tied, the boxing world waits to see who will emerge with the decisive win.

As for Gonzalez, who could very well have defeated Estrada for the second time had a couple of tight rounds been scored differently, will have to wait and see what comes next. While fight fans would certainly love to see a trilogy fight between Gonzalez and Estrada after the quality of their first two fights, Rungvisai is the mandatory challenger and is unlikely to step aside. For his part, promoter Eddie Hearn had some strong opinions on the night’s results, and what he’d like to see next.

117-111 a shocker..115-113 either way. Number 3? #EstradaChocolatito2 @DAZNBoxing

— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) March 14, 2021

Estrada-Gonzalez 2 was one of three title fights on Saturday’s card in Dallas. In the co-featured bout, Jessica McCaskill defeated Cecilia Braekhus for the second time in seven months to successfully defend her undisputed welterweight championship. Her next fight could be even bigger.

Cameron Wolfe and Ben Baby break down the biggest questions coming out of Saturday’s fight.

Did the right fighter win Estrada-Gonzalez 2?

After a hard-fought battle, either Juan Francisco Estrada or Roman Gonzalez could have walked out of Saturday’s fight the winner, and it would’ve felt right. Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

I had the fight a 114-114 draw, but either fighter had a legitimate argument for a 115-113 win. The 117-111 Estrada card was outrageous. So yeah, I feel good about an Estrada win, but I would have felt the same about a Gonzalez win.

CompuBox had Gonzalez having the edge in every category except body-punching, so I can see if there are some people who thought he deserved the win, but there was no time in the bout that I thought he was in clear control. Both guys had their rallies and it was evenly matched, with an eye-popping 2,529 punches of action and impressive counter-punching. No one should be crying robbery after this bout — we should all be praising both warriors for a fighter of the year-quality bout, and praying we don’t have to wait eight more years for the trilogy. — Wolfe

Where does this fight rank among each of their careers?

It’s hard to definitively put this fight into the proper perspective, but this one is certainly up there for both guys.

2 Related

This fight had just about everything one can hope for in a boxing match. You had two champions who threw a combined 2,529 punches, a division record according to CompuBox. It was a rematch that was eight years in the making and an outcome that could have been scored a number of different ways.

Ultimately, Estrada got the decision and the revenge for losing the first fight, but it will certainly be one of the most memorable moments in each of their distinguished careers. For Estrada, the victory gives his resume the major boost it needed and could potentially help him gain a larger share of casual boxing fans. In Gonzalez’s case, he showed that even after more than 50 professional fights, he is still more than capable of putting on a great performance against the best junior bantamweights in the world. — Baby

After a tough SD loss on the scorecards, what would you like to see next for Gonzalez?

While it will have to wait for at least one more bout in the meantime, the appetite for a trilogy fight between Estrada and Gonzalez certainly grew after Saturday’s fight. Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

It seems certain that we get Estrada-Sor Rungvisai 3 next, and after the latter stepped aside so we could get Saturday’s war, it’s deserved. That means Gonzalez will have to find a new worthy opponent while he waits for either of them in a trilogy fight of his own.

Honestly, Gonzalez has nothing left to prove for his legacy outside of eventually fighting Estrada and/or Sor Rungvisai. But if he prefers to stay active and on the hunt rather than waiting, it would be intriguing to see him compete for another title against a new opponent like WBO junior bantamweight world titlist Kazuto Ioka or IBF belt-holder Jerwin Ancajas. — Wolfe

How would Estrada-Gonzalez 3 play out, if it happens down the line?

Right now, I give the edge to Estrada. The champion essentially fought Gonzalez’s fight and matched him in output — Estrada threw a career-high 1,212 punches, according to CompuBox. And even though Estrada failed to land his jabs at a consistent rate, he was able to find more than enough success with his power punches to squeeze out the victory (despite what that 117-111 might try to tell you).

Any edge Estrada might have over the legendary Gonzalez is very slim, though. Even at 33, Gonzalez still has plenty left in the tank and has lost to only two fighters in his pro career — Estrada and Rungvisai (twice). After another compelling fight against Estrada, it only make sense to have a third and final fight to settle the grudge match in what is turning out to be a wonderful series.

A showdown between Jessica McCaskill and two-division undisputed champions Claressa Shields at 147 pounds is best for both

Jessica McCaskill controlled the majority of her fight against Cecilia Braekhus and successfully defended her undisputed welterweight championship on Saturday night. Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

For years, Claressa Shields has had no equal. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed junior middleweight and middleweight champion finally has one in Jessica McCaskill. McCaskill showed she could be Shields’ toughest competition after defeating Cecilia Braekhus in their rematch to retain her status as the undisputed welterweight champion.

A Shields-McCaskill matchup makes sense for Shields. McCaskill has done enough with two victories over Braekhus to become a champion and a viable opponent for Shields, who is coming off a recent win against Marie Eve Dicaire.

The biggest obstacle to making that fight happen? The weight difference. Shields is currently fighting at the 154-pound division and has been as high as 167 in her professional career. To challenge McCaskill, she will likely need to go down to the 147-pound welterweight limit, which is the heaviest McCaskill has fought at.

Each fighter should also command substantial money for women’s boxing, which means everyone involved will need to do their part to make it a financial success. And this is where the fight could be a true selling point for Shields.

McCaskill talks a ton of trash and has a personality that can sell a big fight. Shields is fresh off producing an all-women pay-per-view event. If Shields wants to continue to boost the profile of women’s boxing, a potential fight or rivalry against McCaskill could give that cause a massive boost. It’s the type of payoff that could be worth the risk. — Baby

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